Homilies, Talks and other great messages
A SIMPLE BAG FOR THOSE WITHOUT SHELTER
“Lazarus and the Rich Man”
Deacon Dan’s homily for Sunday, September 29, 2019
Today’s Gospel, the story of Lazarus and the rich man can be told in the narrative of social justice, caring for our fellow human beings. There’s no criticism in approaching it this way. But the Church cannot be divided amongst its three parts; evangelization, liturgy, and love of our neighbor. So, today’s story cannot be merely focused on caring for the poor.
Jesus Christ is Priest, Prophet, and King. His Church acts in His name as Priest, bringing the Liturgy, the sacraments and prayer to the world; Prophet, performing its teaching and evangelizing mission in His name and King; bringing justice, social justice on behalf of all people through the myriad of Catholic social works organizations, including: St. Vincent DePaul, Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus, our Parish Human Concerns Ministry, Community Servants and the Nomadic Shelter.
These three parts of Christ’s Church, Liturgy, evangelization and social justice cannot be separated. They are linked to one another and makeup what the Church does in the world.
When we are celebrating the Eucharist, as we are this morning, we find at its summit the outpouring of love from the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross; re-presented for each of us in His Body and Blood for us, the poor, the hungry who thirst for Him who brings us life.
When we evangelize, we bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to our community, to those who are poor because they are without the very thing that will make them happy; the lasting joy of union with the Father.
And, when we turn full face to the poor, we should encounter Jesus Christ in that person, and in seeing Jesus in that needy person, returns us to the Eucharist.
So, using that as the backdrop to the story of Lazarus and the rich man, there are a couple of things that stick out in the story. First, I’ve been hearing this parable for as long as I can remember, even as a child, hearing this story told by Sister Mary Lawrence over at St.Mel, it bothered me; wondering if I would one day be asking for someone I ignored to just dip their finger into some cool water to quench my thirst. And, ever since, its bothered me. Does it kind get to you, as well; make you squirm in the pew just a little bit? The description of how things turn out with Lazarus and the rich man makes me feel uncomfortable, makes me wonder if I am in any sense, in any degree, the rich man.
It seems pretty clear, that’s the objective Jesus had in mind. The story should make us uncomfortable. It should prompt us to question how we look at the poor…and I intend to mean the poor in any manner, in our society; not just financially poor, but lacking or suffering in any other ways, as well.
The second thing about this story is we know the name of Lazarus, the poor man, but aren’t told the name of the rich man. Could this be because Jesus is once again turning things upside down? Because, even today we know who the rich people are, but the poor, the homeless, the guy holding the sign on the onramp to Hwy 50 are nameless, if we avoid eye contact, they become faceless, if we stereotype them, they just become part of a societal problem, not really even human beings.
But, here Jesus knows the poor by name. It's hard to be indifferent to someone we know by name.
Jesus may also have something else in mind. That is the rich man is nameless in His parable so we can insert our name as his. The story now becomes the parable of Lazarus and Deacon Dan.
So how does our Lord’s parable reach into our lives, today? Well, this past week I received an e-mail on the HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) from a woman who lives in our area looking for some direction on what to do when she sees “Lazarus” on the streets. She wrote in because of a social media post that caused her to question her own thoughts of seeing homeless panhandling and how she responds.
Hi- There was a recent post on our local social media website and this has been brought up a few times and the comments made are very sickening to me.
The post she refers to identifies the use of law enforcement as the only option. And, does lump most everyone on the streets as criminals and career beggars looking for money to satisfy their addictions. Our sheriff deputies, parks rangers and local police have very limited tools to use for the problem of homelessness.
She continues, I am "one of those people" who give food and money to those I see on the streets. I am often ridiculed for this because the response I get is that these are people who are addicts and alcoholics who just want money for their next fix. As a Christ-follower, I am never thinking of this, only that someone may be in need and I am not the person to judge. I often see blanket statements about career beggars to support alcoholism and so forth. Can you shed some light on this statement specific to our area, Folsom & El Dorado Hills and where would I find true Fact based information to say whether or not that "many" of the career beggars are scammers etc. as what it also implied on this particular thread. I'm also open to the possibility I may be in the "wrong" and I am the person contributing to the problem...Although I do what my heart calls upon...Thank you!
Hello and thank you for your note. My name is Dan Haverty. I am a past Board member of HART and received your message. I’ll try to offer you some of my thoughts on homelessness in El Dorado Hills and Folsom, as well as our Christian reality in a world that does not agree with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I’ve found that persons who are without shelter cannot be all swept into one or two stereotypes. They are not all “professional beggars”, neither are they all “just down on their luck.” They are individuals, each with a different background, story and path to where they are and where they are going. Because of this, there isn’t one “really good” solution.
I am convinced that in most cases giving someone on a street corner or in front of a store a dollar or two does not help that individual or the larger problem. I am equally convinced that doesn’t mean we do nothing; at that moment of encounter or when we get home and reflect on our day.
As followers of Jesus we are invited to recognize Him in everyone and everything. We are called to Love God with all our heart, mind and spirit; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We also know that Christians will be persecuted for their love, as it appears you have been.
So, how do we respond? Like most things in life, be prepared. If you feel compelled to give something at the street corner pack up a few “care bags” for your car in a small lunch bag containing a pair of socks, a sani-wipe, a protein bar and a resource list. These items are useful for someone on the street. If you’d like, insert a prayer card or other hope-filled message. Or, give them a referral card to HART and other resources for those without shelter. Or, just look them in the eye, smile and wish them a good day. Just don’t ignore them.
I’d be happy to speak with you further, if you’d find it helpful.
So, this morning I have for you a small bag containing the contents I just mentioned. This isn’t a Parish effort, there’s no cost. These are just from my wife, Terri, and me and our sock drawers, to you, to look someone in the eye and offer some help.
There are 80 of these bags available for you to take one, two or more to place in your car to have , so when you are given the opportunity to help someone on the street, you have something helpful.
If serving the poor is a way of life for you today…THANK YOU.
If you’ve wanted to help in some way, but haven’t known how to begin, take a bag and give it to someone needing it.
If you’d like to help, here at the Parish, buy some tickets to the Nomadic Shelter dinner available in the Narthex.
Or, sign up to bring part of a meal to the Nomadic Shelter which will begin on November 4th and continue into March.
Our Parish does a great deal to help the less fortunate here, locally, as well as in Kenya, Haiti and Ethiopia. If you’re not involved in any of these ministries yet, may I suggest reading today’s Gospel when you get back home and be open to receiving the direction our Lord has in mind for you.
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 16:19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man's table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.'
'My child, remember that you received
what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.'
He said, 'Then I beg you, father,
send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.'
But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.'
He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"
Pray With Childlike Praise
Deacon Dan’s homily for Sunday, October 20, 2019
The point of the story Jesus tells us about the widow and the dishonest judge, if you missed it, comes in the first line, “the necessity for them, for us, to pray always without becoming weary.”
Today’s lesson from Jesus is about prayer; specifically, persistence in our prayer, but prayer. Now, maybe you find prayer boring or irrelevant in a modern high-tech society, or prayer is something old people do. But, if you’re thinking, “Oh God, I hope he doesn’t talk too long today; then, you’re already praying!”
For years I thought prayer was pretty much limited to Mass on Sunday and Holy Days, grace before meals and a 20-second prayer at bedtime…that didn’t vary at all night after night. Really, my prayer seemed not much more than a memorized recital of words that my Mom and Dad…and the Sisters of Mercy taught me as a youngster; the intimacy of a relationship was missing.
As I grew older and faced trials with our children, troubles at work, feelings of uncertainty about things that I saw happening in the world, I would turn to God and ask for His help. Occasionally, I would see something wonderful while on a backpacking trip, or see the miraculous treasures of life in our children, or feel the grace of love from my wife, and thank and praise God for giving me these beautiful gifts. But, I can’t say that these times of prayer were more than brief opportunities to encounter our good and gracious Lord; brief because I wouldn’t give Him time, I wasn’t centering myself on Him. God was always in my life, but on the periphery, the outskirts. And, God wants more than that for us. He wants all of us. He calls us to be in relationship with Him through prayer.
St. Paul says, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Terri and I have been married for nearly 46 years. We dated for a year before that. During our courtship, we couldn’t wait to see each other; We couldn’t wait to talk together and share everything about our lives. We would leave notes for each other on our cars if the other was at work. We got to know each other by talking, sharing, and listening…listening. Throughout our marriage, when things would get a bit dicey, it was the conversation, the sharing, and the listening that was being neglected.
Our relationships with each other, when built on love, are patterned after our relationship with Jesus. Converse/pray, share, listen.
Prayer is important for our spiritual life, our spiritual growth, our knowing Jesus. We know that the Gospels record Jesus praying, but just in the Gospel we heard from today, St. Luke references Jesus praying 18 times!
4:21. After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also was baptized and was praying, heaven was opened.
5:16. The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.
Before he selected the 12 apostles, 6:12 In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.
9:16. Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
6:28. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.
11:1. He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.’
22:17. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said Take this and share it among yourselves.
Terri recently purchased a little book for our grandson, Zachary, who was baptized last Sunday. He’s seven years old. The name of the book is, “Notes from Jesus: What your new best friend wants you to know” by Mikal Keefer. Here’s a little bit from one page on prayer.
“I want you to know…I don’t care if you pray with your eyes wide open…
Or while you’re riding a bike.
Or while you’re cleaning your room.
Or while you’re eating a sandwich.
Or while you’re watching TV.
Or while you’re in class, in church, or in the bathtub.
Or while you’re pulling on your sneakers, brushing your teeth, doing homework, yawning yourself awake, or drifting off to sleep.
It’s okay with me if you pray while you’re weeding the garden, jumping off the high dive, mowing the grass, getting a haircut, walking the dog, making your bed, riding in the car, hopscotching across the playground, or climbing a tree.
You can pray anywhere, anytime, and I’m happy to talk with you.
The more we’re together, the better I like it!”
Zachary received another book; It’s titled, “If I could ask God anything” by Katheryn Slattery. So, I looked through it and found a question that just might help us.
“What should I do when I can’t think of what to pray?”
It suggests using mnemonic ACTS – like the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke’s second important writing. ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. I know what you might be thinking…You gave this to your grandson…he’s only seven! Well, we have high hopes for him.
ADORATION – Start your prayer time by praising God. Tell God how wonderful He is. Tell God how much you appreciate His love and His creation.
CONFESSION – Confess to God all the ways you’ve let Him down. Tell God you are sorry for your sins. Ask for His forgiveness.
THANKSGIVING - Thank God for all the good things in your life. Once you get started, this may take longer than you think! No matter what your troubles are, there is always much to be thankful for.
SUPPLICATION – The word supplication means to humbly and earnestly ask. Tell God what’s going on in your life. Share your prayer requests. Don’t hold back. Tell God everything, from the bottom of your heart. God loves you, and He wants to hear every detail.
Now, I know I’ve read to you from two children’s books. But there are lessons from the simplicity of children’s prayer.
St. Matthew wrote, “When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things* he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; and have you never read the text, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth praise’?”
Today, let us go forth and grow in relationship with God through His beloved Son with childlike prayer.
This bag is intended to be given to someone whom you may encounter on a street corner or in front of a store asking for some help. It contains items that can be used, but won’t add to the garbage frequently seen in homeless camps. Make it small, easy for you to keep in your car or handbag and easy for them to use or keep in their bag. For someone wanting to help themselves out of homelessness, the resource list is the most valuable item in the bag. The bag consists of: a paper, recyclable sandwich bag (not a zip-lock plastic bag), one pair of clean socks (used is OK), one item for personal hygiene (sani-wipe, hand cleanser, toothbrush/toothpaste, feminine hygiene), one food item (multigrain bar, protein bar, box of raisins, beef stick, dried fruit), and resource list. Here’s a photo:
HOMELESSNESS RESOURCES IN WESTERN EL DORADO COUNTY AND FOLSOM
Calvary Chapel Food Closet 6575 Commercial Way, Diamond Springs Food Distribution 2nd & 4th Wed. 10:00
Rolling Hills Church 800 White Rock Rd. , El Dorado Hills. Food Distribution 2nd & 4th Tues. 10:00
Mother Teresa Maternity Home Placerville 530-295-8006
Veteran’s Affairs 130 Placerville Dr., Placerville 530-621-5892 H.A.R.T. of Folsom: 916-542-0615 or - Powerhouse Ministries: 916-983-0658
Twin Lakes Food Bank 327 Montrose Dr., Folsom Open: T, W, Th 9:00-12:30.
St. Vincent DePaul 225 Marchant Dr., Folsom Open M, W, F 8:30 – 11:30.
Sacramento Self-help Housing in Folsom: (916) 916-215-3420 Jefflyne Fitts
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16)